Analyst: Square Enix's Problem Is Their Lack Of Multiplayer
We've already learned that a trio of Square Enix's biggest games didn't hit internal sales expectations.
However, in looking at the list, one wonders what the company would've considered a success. After all, the recently released and critically acclaimed Tomb Raider has sold 3.4 million copies...isn't that not enough?
No, said independent games analyst Billy Pidgeon, who says the game needed to sell 5 million copies just to be "successful." Furthermore, as he told GamesIndustry International, Square Enix's focus on single-player adventures is a problem.
"The AAA market is extremely competitive. Most of Square Enix's franchises are single player games, which are less popular than multiplayer. Square Enix has been a leader in that sector, but now faces stronger competition from multiple publishers, both large and small, including Bethesda, Capcom, Xseed, Atlus and Level 5.
Square Enix's franchises are well established and require ever-higher production budgets to match and surpass past performance. The latest Hitman and Tomb Raider sold in the three million unit range and got Metacritic ratings above 8. Those numbers would rate as successful for JRPGs that earn more from vendors as exclusives and have manageable budgets. But for games with development budgets approaching $100 million to be truly profitable, ratings have to be above 8.5 and sales need to be in the five to ten million unit range."
All right, sounds like business practices aren't where they should be for Square Enix. However, the idea that single-player focus is the culprit doesn't really make much sense at all. Call of Duty may be the biggest name in the industry today and it's all about multiplayer, but the second-biggest franchise this generation (sales-wise, anyway) has been Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, which certainly doesn't focus on multiplayer. If you eliminated it entirely, I doubt sales would suffer. And let's not forget that nobody is going to buy Grand Theft Auto V specifically for the multiplayer, either, and that's projected to sell over 20 million copies.
Then you've got the well-performing Uncharted series, along with almost the entire RPG genre (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, The Witcher, etc.). No, I'm sorry, Mr. Pidgeon, that's really not Square Enix's issue. If you've got a shooter and there's no multiplayer, that's a problem. But many will say Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs didn't need multiplayer, nor did many gamers refuse to buy such games because they didn't have multiplayer. That's just wrong.
3/27/2013 11:44:19 AM Ben Dutka